Finding It Hard To Write

Not in any way related to the post, but this is my toddler dressed as a monkey in a rather nice little tea shop eating a banana.

We all go through phases don’t we, where the blank page never fills up, where inspiration to sit down and type just doesn’t come. I’ve been feeling a bit like that about this blog recently, which is a shame as it’s intended to be a record for when my kids are older and they (or more likely, I) can read back at all the things they did, the highs, the lows and the inbetweens too.

Life has kind of kicked up a gear from the franticness of the early days of having two under two. Two whole babies to look after compared to one of me (with two of us of course during the evenings and weekends!). Nine months of that and then all of a sudden it was time to think about that four letter word again – work. I’m massively enjoying being back into the world of work but the dynamics are very different again.

Up until I was 12 weeks pregnant with Alexandra, I worked full time (and overtime! And time over that too!) and life was very full with not only my real job but also the volunteer work that I did in my spare time (running a mental health group). Then I upped sticks and moved in with Dylan and suddenly I had not a fat lot to do. I spent a lot of my first maternity leave napping, eating and watching pointless television. Now, I wish I’d done something more productive with that time. But equally I’m happy I had that wind-down time that I probably won’t get again until I’m 80. Then I had my time off with Alex where I learned how to be someone’s mom before I started freelancing – doing bits and bobs while she was napping, occasionally taking her along to a work meeting and she’d sleep in the pram or smile at everyone, setting up stuff for her to play with so I could work at our dining room table.

And then came maternity leave with Max and then came, well, now. Each and every day is so full on because even if we don’t go anywhere, there’s two bums to keep clean, two mouths to feed (constantly!), arguments over toys being MINE, washing to do, a house to keep clean, more snacks, more food, bottles, baths, bedtime routines. And that’s without nursery drop offs and pick ups, baby groups, play dates, errands, doctor’s appointments. So I’ve resigned myself to the fact the daytime is not going to be my friend in terms of work and I’ve generally been starting my working day at 7.30pm. It’s going well so far, I think. No one’s emailed me back to say THIS IS SHIT so I’ve either been writing okay or everyone’s too polite to say anything! I should hope it’s the former seen as they’re paying me to do it.

So in between my 12 hour days working as ‘mom’ with the kids, the couple of hours working at night, writing the occasional blog for the Motherload and occasionally talking to my husband, I’ve not had much headspace for this blog.

This whole thing comes across a little as a moan about how busy I am (which it’s not intended to be, I actually think I function better being busy and I love both my work and my homelife even if both can be challenging at times) or just a whole heap of excuse about my lack of blog writing. Which again, is unintended. I hope to always carry on this blog. I hope to be talking about my grandchildren on this blog one day (although of course my two are going to stay little forever and never fly the nest and have kids of their own!).

Anyway, it’s very late and I’m about to go to bed. Max is stirring a little so I’m hoping the murmuring over the monitor won’t turn into a full blown cry!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

It’s Just A Phase

Hopefully making a mess is a phase too.

If you’re a parent, how many times have you heard the phrase ‘it’s just a phase’? I’m willing to bet if you times your child’s age in seconds by infinity you still would be way off. In fact, I said it in a group chat with my NCT friends less than 24 hours before typing this post.

It got me thinking. It’s probably one of the most common parenting phrases (alongside ‘they grow up so fast’ and ‘why is Bing such a knob?’) but in my experience, it’s also very true. It’s not just one of those things old ladies have learned to say so that they sound like a herd of sheep all bleating together ‘it’s just a phase’. Every single thing ends.

That means the lovely things: like that newborn smell, the way they curl up like a little Quaver crisp on your chest for the first few weeks, the little snuffling noises they do (I can’t carry on with this list or I might cry thinking about the cuteness of that early time). But it also means the shit things too. I remember Dylan saying to me before Christmas when we were going through that awful time when Max just forgot how to sleep and sometimes the only way we could get through a night was having him in our bed for a bit, that he was worried we’d get into a habit that we’d never get out of. I replied that even if we did, I’ve never ever heard of a 15 year old boy wanting to get into his parents’ bed overnight so eventually we’d get out of the habit (as it was we somehow muddled our way through that time and he hasn’t been in our bed for months).

The whole sleep thing was awful. We knew it would end and we knew that while we could try and influence it in some ways – adjusting nap times, making sure we were consistent with our approach at night – some of it would just be a matter of time. Time to get over the constant colds he was experiencing. Time to cut those first teeth through. And time to just get past that developmental stage.

The same goes for the horrendous toddler tantrums we had at the start of the year. For a few weeks, pretty much every day with Alex made me want to cry. There were glimpses of the funny, intelligent, lovely little girl but there were also hours each day where I just wanted to run away! Again, a developmental stage I think as she got noticeably better (not cured: the tantrums are still there like you’d expect from a two year old don’t worry!) the day her speech got dramatically clearer and her sentences got longer.

Every single thing that happens in their life is just a phase, some of them you barely get through by the skin of your teeth, some of them exhaust you, some of them make you cry so much your face hurts constantly. Some of them delight you, some you never want to end.

It’s not actually that reassuring at the start to hear ‘it’s just a phase’ as you want to do something to fix them, to hurry past that time of them being unsettled or unhappy (or making you unhappy!), but I think certainly for me the more phases you go through, the more you learn to try and not get as wound up by them. To let them pass. To just get through them the best way you can.

However, for those offering up the phrase ‘it’s just a phase’ perhaps you could add on another phrase which will offer more comfort? For example:
‘It’s just a phase…but here is some chocolate to help you get through it.’
‘It’s just a phase…but do you need a couple of hours off? If so, I can look after baby.’
‘It’s just a phase…but here is what helped us get through that phase.’
‘It’s just a phase…you’re doing a great job.’

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

How Life Changed

Isn’t it funny how life can change? I was chatting to an old school friend the other day and she casually mentioned her 30th next year. I was like wow she’s got that wrong – til I realised she was indeed completely correct. Mine’s not til the following year as she was older in the year and I was one of the youngest. But still, it’s been ten years since I did my A-Levels this year. Ten years since I left school and started journalism college. Nine years since I moved out of my parents’ home and into my first little flat with a grand sum of a microwave, a couple of towels and some clothes to my name.

Nine years since I took a job at a newspaper as a junior reporter (which means I’ve known Dylan nine years) and eight since I moved and settled in a new town where my job was based. Eight years since I became acting deputy and seven since I passed my senior exams. Six since I moved again and five since I ran a half-marathon, launched a paper and also began running a mental health group. Four since my own mental health took a turn for the worse and I spent a summer as an inpatient on a ward. But also four since the guy I sort of liked who I knew through work asked me on a date and also four since we got engaged and booked our wedding (it took five years for him to ask me out but once we got past that hurdle, we moved fast!).

Three years since we found out we were expecting a baby girl, since we moved in together, since we had our amazing honeymoon in Thailand and since Alexandra Cavanagh was born. Yeah, three years ago was incredible but also some of the hardest days of our lives. Three years since we were forced to cancel our wedding 48 hours beforehand, since I spent what should have been my wedding day on oxygen being taken to the bathroom in a wheelchair, since Dylan was told I might not make it. But also three years since we put our middle fingers up to a CAPS diagnosis and the shoddy odds of survival that offer and three years since I came home and we began life as a family.

Which makes it two years since we got married! Finally! The best day of our lives, so incredibly full of happiness and love. And two years since we found out that a baby boy would be joining our family (oops! But also yay!). Two years since we took Alexandra abroad for the first time.

And a year since Max Llewellyn Arturs was born. A year since the days of NICU and operations and ventilators and medicine and nurses and so many ups and downs. A year since we brought him home and settled into our new life together. A month since the turn of the year, bringing with it the hope of a calm and peaceful 2018!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Baby 2: 10 Months Old

10 months old! I am still firmly pretending Max is a newborn (and his nappies still say newborn on the pack, so I must be right yes?) but he is in fact much closer to being a toddler than I care to admit!

Teeth: Two! And lots of rooting round as if there’s a new one coming through pretty soon.

Sleep: This has got a lot better since my post a few weeks back about how awfully he’d started sleeping. We’re now firmly making sure he goes down at around 7pm but no later than 7.30pm which seems to help and we’ve moved his afternoon nap later so he’s not overtired in the evenings. On average, we get up about 5 times a night now but it’s without fail just to put his dummy back in and maybe some teething gel on – fingers crossed we’ve had a couple of weeks now where we haven’t had to rock him back to sleep or spend hours trying every method under the sun to get him to settle.

Routine: Up about 7.30ish but can be later, breakfast around 8/8.30, nap around 10-11, bottle at 11, lunch at 1, bottle at 2.30/2.45, nap around 3-4/4.30, dinner at 5, bottle at 6.30, bed at 7ish.

Food: Max is doing amazingly with his food trials so we’ve reduced the last couple to six days with the hope of reducing further to five days for each new food. We now have 18 safes (lamb, salmon, pineapple, apple, plum, peach, blueberry, strawberry, avocado, cauliflower, broccoli, carrot, parsnip, tomato, white potato, sorghum, wheat, coconut milk/yoghurt). Wheat has been a great one for him to pass as it’s opened up some bread to us (only specific ones as most contain soya, but it’s nice to see him chewing on a bagel!) as well as different cereals, pasta and cous cous. We’re trialling pear this week and also trying to concentrate on introducing some finger foods (using his safes, so giving cut up fruit or some bread) as well as cutting up food rather than giving it pureed so he gets used to more textures.

Bottles: Max now has a bottle of expressed breast milk (5oz/150ml) in the morning then two bottles of formula, I switched his afternoon one from EBM to formula in readiness for me stopping pumping next week – with the stash I’ve got in the freezer it means he can continue having one bottle of EBM each day until his first birthday. If he’s still needing a follow-on formula at this point (I think they’ll recommend that) then I’ll feel okay that he had some breastmilk for an entire year.

Lungs: We are thrilled, thrilled, thrilled that we had a follow-up appointment and X-ray at the hospital where he had his operation and his right lung has expanded massively since his last X-ray in June. That means his diaphragm is pretty much where it should be and there’s no evidence of reherniating. The surgeon was so happy with him, he doesn’t want to see Max again for another year. I mean, I know we all like to share how great our kids are doing when they hit their milestone but growing your lung capacity by almost double in six months is pretty special. Well done Maxi!

Playing: Max definitely has a preference for ‘hard’ toys over cuddly teddies. He loves sharing his sister’s Lego blocks, tea set and cars. He also has an inflatable farm-themed ring from his cousin which he absolute delights in climbing in and out of. Oh yes, we have another climber. He’s discovered he can get over things now so I’m sure it’s only  a matter of time before I’m rescuing him from high up places – it’s like raising a colony of monkeys sometimes.

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

The Cost of a Nap

Remember in the ‘good old days’ when you used to just go for a drive aimlessly? Quite often my first boyfriend and I would just get in his car and drive around of an evening, even though we were absolutely skint. Now you need a ridiculous amount of money to be able to indulge in such luxury and I feel like suggesting going for a drive without a destination is akin to asking if you fancy an impromptu holiday! Myself and Dylan hardly ever get in the car unless we have somewhere to go.

There is a point to this, I promise.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about switching the kids around so that Alexandra was in the bigger room in a single bed (here) which all went very well. However, I’m at a bit of a loss as to how you get a toddler to willingly get into their bed and nap. Alex has once, ONCE, got into bed and said ‘I tired mommy’ but by the time I’d closed the curtains she was back up again and couldn’t be persuaded to go to sleep. Once in desperation, I put her back into the cot in the nursery for a nap. But this just isn’t sustainable – I need the cot for Max’s nap and also if she really wanted to Alex could get out of the sleeping bag and out of the cot which clearly isn’t super safe.

So I’ve resorted to going out in the car and just driving around until I think she’s asleep, and then attempting to transfer her into the bed when we get home. This has varying levels of success:

About 20 per cent of the time, she falls asleep and stays asleep when I put her in the bed.

About 20 per cent of the time, nobody falls asleep and I just get two very confused faces when I stop the car like ‘why did we just drive round in a massive circle?!’

Around 40 per cent of the time, the wrong child falls asleep.

And the other 20 per cent of the time, Alex falls asleep and then wakes up when I try and take her out of the car.

So essentially, my new ‘desperation drive nap attempt’ technique is a little bit rubbish. However, as my success rate of getting her to fall asleep in her own bed is currently 0 per cent, it’s better than that right?

If Alexandra was ready to give up her nap then I wouldn’t be too bothered (although now Max has a regular nap schedule it would be lovely to have an hour child-free to work or do something productive in!) but she’s clearly very tired and her behaviour hasn’t been the best since the New Year when we swapped the bedrooms. It could be that she was going to take the Terrible Twos up at notch at this point anyway, but I’m sure tiredness plays a part in the silly behaviour we’re experiencing.

Alex is very much (and has always been) of the mindset that if she doesn’t want to do something, she won’t do it. And you could say well you’re the parent, just make her. But how do I persuade a child to sleep when, short of installing a lock on the outside of her door and barricading her in to her room (where let’s be honest she’d just throw everything out and scream the place down), I have no way of physically keeping her in her bed. When she was still in the cot, she’d protest about nap time then realise she might as well just lie down and go to sleep as that was the only option open to her. Now, just leaving the room and coming downstairs is her preferred option.

So a couple of times a week you’ll find me just aimlessly driving around trying to get my child to sleep while pretending I’m not paying through the nose for the pleasure!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

The Baby Forgot How To Sleep

From fairly near the beginning with both of our children, we have been blessed with good sleepers. Alexandra slept through from a few months old and has never, aside from the odd night of teething, looked back. When Max followed suit we were pretty pleased and, although I’d still been getting up to express and we had the eternal ‘putting the dummy back in the baby’s mouth’ momentary stirring regularly, things seemed like they’d all gone the right way again.

Then about two months ago, Max started getting up in the night. And by getting up in the night, I mean sometimes being unsettled for an hour or two at 10pm, sometimes being awake for three hours from 1am and sometimes never really settling for the majority of the night. He had a bout of bronchiolitis, we knew teething was starting and he was also rapidly outgrowing his Moses basket so we thought it was a combination of all of those. Knowing what to do wasn’t easy: you try the usual teething gel, more blankets, fewer blankets, rocking, shushing, patting. He spent a fair amount of time in our bed. It then came time to put him into the nursery his sister had just vacated – we wondered whether it might make things worse because he does like the comfort of being near to someone, or whether not having the disturbance of us coming to bed or getting up for the loo would make things easier for him.

Well the result wasn’t great. He had a few of his worst nights when we put him in his own room (he also had another cold, about his fifth of the winter, which wasn’t great timing but he was about to burst out of the ends of his Moses basket and if we waited until Max wasn’t snotty he’d have been in with us for years). I read an article one morning at 4am about the timings of naps and concluded that his afternoon nap needed moving backwards so he was waking around 4pm and that we needed to ensure he was in bed by 7.30pm at the latest. The first few nights of this new routine were much better, we were only up to him a couple of times in the night and that was just to replace his dummy rather than spending an hour or two trying to calm him with every and any baby soothing method we can think of.

Then two nights ago (Sunday), he didn’t have a great night. Last night was pants too – he was up for a while around the time we went to bed and then again in the early hours then there were about three hours where I never got the chance to get fully back to sleep in between getting up and down to him.

I’ve read articles saying if you can get them to self soothe then they’ll sleep better. Not so – Max now goes down sleepy but awake and gets himself to sleep almost immediately. But if he wakes up in the night then he needs us to come and settle him back down. I wonder whether weaning him off the dummy would help but I think it might make things worse at this point – and I really can’t face the few days of awful, awful crying that we know it’s likely to take to break the habit.

I wonder whether it’s related to the fact he has a lot of colds so his nose is blocked a fair amount (although we use Snufflebabe, nasal spray and have his cot at an angle in an attempt to help), whether it’s reflux (which is fairly under control on his meds although we tried to reduce them last week on the doctor’s advice and have gone back up to three doses as he’d started being sick more), whether it’s teething (two have popped through and he’s potentially showing signs number three is on its way), whether it’s separation anxiety (although he’ll sleep for the first few hours of the night absolutely fine on his own) or whether it’s his allergies (in which case we’re doomed until he grows out of them!).

Of course, the alternative is he read the article I wrote for the Motherload about baby sleep and decided to make me look a fool.

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

A Big Girl Bed

For so, so, so, so long we’ve been talking to Alexandra about her big girl bed in her new big girl room and we finally made the transition over the Christmas holidays.

We knew as soon as we found out we were expecting baby 2 that we would move baby 1 into the bigger bedroom (she had been in the nursery ie the box room since leaving our room at six months) and then I think had we had another girl, they would have shared and we’d have used the third room for storage and/or a study. Anyway, Max is very much a boy so it was decided unfortunately as he was the second child he’d have the smaller room.

What with work, two children, various other commitments and a multiple of problems along the way, it took until a couple of days post Christmas for the room to be ready. We’re really pleased with it – we decided to use the light green and pink accessories already up in the nursery so picked green walls, white furniture and pink curtains (as an aside I’m SO glad we didn’t pick pink paint as I think it would have just been too girly and saccharine sweet). During the day, Alex really enjoyed playing in there (lots of her toys and books are now in there alongside her new dolls’ house).

And then it came to bedtime.

She was truly reluctant to get into bed at first, wanting me to lie down instead and then running off. Eventually Dylan and I swapped places and he went in to get her sorted. There were some tears (from her) but around an hour later she’d finally settled and that was the last we heard of her until 8.30am the next day when she burst into our room (she can now open the doors in our house even though they’re the twisty knob type handles that I struggle with!) shouting TAA DAA. The entrance was hilarious, cute and I feel well deserved given the fact I fully expected to be in and out with her all night.

The next day it took even less time and now she’s fairly happy with trotting off into bed, although she demands an extra story in her room. The first couple of nights there were a few times when she escaped onto the landing but that’s stopped now and so far, touch wood, she hasn’t got up in the middle of the night. In the morning, she’s either been coming into our room (but at a decent time so that’s fine!) or playing quietly.

Our one issue is I have no idea how to get her to stay in bed and go for a nap? As a result she hasn’t had her eyes shut during daylight hours (except once when she fell asleep on her trike the other day). Do I pop her back in the cot in the nursery? What if Max needs to nap at the same time? Do I just accept she doesn’t nap anymore? Do I have to drive round and round for two hours each afternoon so she can sleep in the car?

Of course, our other issue is now Max is in the nursery and he has completely malfunctioned and decided to sleep like a newborn – except he was a regular ‘up every three hours’ newborn so this is even worse. I shall save the sorry tale for my next post!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Baby 2: Nine Months Old

Three quarters of a year! Max is now nine months old which means it’s time for another monthly update about what he’s been doing and the new skills he’s learned. I’m finding it really interesting to go back and read what I was writing about Alexandra at this point in her development (her nine month update is here) – not because I want to pit them against each other but just because you forget so much, even in the space of 18 months, and it’s hard to remember that she didn’t pop out as this walking, talking, sassy toddler. Anyway, I digress. Onwards with the update:

Teeth: I’m starting here because there’s actually something to report! Max has one tooth now and potentially the corner of the second – although he won’t let me near to check properly. His sister didn’t pop one through til nearly 11 months so it was a surprise to me when his came through a couple of weeks ago. However, also in contrast to Alexandra who never seemed overly bothered with teething aside from a few restless nights, Max is really struggling. If all of them are like this then we’re in for a long and tiring ride!

Sitting/crawling: He’s been practising lots and can now sit for a few seconds unaided but he’s definitely not at the point where he can be left to it. Max’s crawling is also coming along and he’s able to get around really quickly with his commando type crawl on his belly. He does now get on to his hands and knees occasionally for a few seconds so he’s making progress in the right direction.

Playing: Max loves playing with his sister’s Lego and cars, some pom poms (I think I spoke about them in his eight month update but he still loves them) and still spends time in his jumparoo and bouncer. Among his Christmas presents were a Nuby police car with lights and sounds which he loves, and some little sea creature themed soft building blocks which he’s also enjoying.

Eating: We had some really good progress with that this month and have passed three new food trials bringing him up to a total of 13 foods I believe. New on the menu since the last update are lamb (which we thought he might have reacted to previously), salmon and pineapple and we’re now trialling white potato which is slightly higher risk but we think would be a good addition to his diet. So everything was going as smoothly as it can with an FPIES baby until he had an accidental exposure to dairy on Boxing Day. Unfortunately half a teaspoon’s worth was enough to send him to A&E as he was as white as a sheet, very lethargic and vomiting like nothing you’ve ever seen. Luckily after a while there must have been nothing left in his stomach at all and after a sleep he woke up looking much brighter so they let us go home. We obviously didn’t record any of it as we were focused on him but I almost wish we had so we could show people who are likely to be around him and food how ill he can get from just the tiniest bit of cow’s milk.

Sleeping: You know when you write a blog about people’s reactions when you say your kids are good sleepers – and then karma turns round and bites you in the bum? Max’s sleep has been awful since he had a bout of bronchiolitis a month or so ago. We made the transition yesterday from our room to the nursery (as his sister has now vacated it for her big girl room) and he lasted until half 10 before I brought him back in with me after getting up six times in the preceding half an hour. He seems to want different things each night: sometimes it’s clearly his teeth bothering him, sometimes he wants a cuddle, most the time he will settle a bit more if he’s in the bed with us but sometimes nothing works at all. Dylan wants to just leave him in the nursery to cry it out but I’m concerned firstly that he just wouldn’t settle and the long-term effect of that, and secondly that if he wakes Alexandra we then have two crying children to deal with (third reason would be we’re not exactly getting any more sleep than we would be if he was crying in the same room as us.

So that’s the round up of his nine month update. Let’s see what this month brings!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

No Two Are The Same

I read a really interesting Instagram post from Poppy Dinsey the other day – she’s got newborn twin boys (who are ADORABLE) and she wrote about how fascinating it was that they were so different when they’re being raised exactly the same way, at exactly the same time. I think it’s very easy to place a massive focus on what we as parents are doing when it comes to raising the children, and to almost forget that the child also has a say in how they’ll turn out. Some of it has got to be nature rather than nurture, right?
So many of us are obsessed with whether our baby will be a fussy eater, whether they’ll sleep through the night, whether they’ll have colic or reflux or any number of other common tiny person ailments. We read baby books and consult others who are further along in their parenting journey, and worry and fret constantly about how we’re bringing them up. And yet from day one they have their own little personality, very quickly they have likes and dislikes. And I guess part of the joy of parenting is discovering their little quirks? (Unless their quirks are just enjoying crying ALL the time).
Certainly for me, it’s very true that you can have two children who can be really different. And while no doubt there are some things we’ve probably changed in terms of our approach this time round, like maybe being more relaxed or caring less about whether it’s ‘okay’ to rock the baby to sleep, some of it is definitely influenced by them.
Cuddles is the area that springs to mind when I talk about this subject. Now, you could say my babies had very different experiences when it comes to cuddling. Alexandra had hardly any with me in the first few months of her life, although clearly had plenty with other people, and as a result whenever I tried to get her to lie on my chest or snuggle up with me later on down the line, she normally tried to head-butt me and squirm away as fast as possible. Max was in an incubator for a lot of the first two weeks of his life, so whenever we had the chance he was out and having cuddles. Now at nearly nine months old, I still spend a lot of time cuddling him. He likes to be rocked to sleep if he’s overtired or teething or just because. We are making progress with Alex though and she now asks for cuddles before bed! And sometimes she runs up to us and throws her arms around our knees or gives us kisses. Very cute.
Our teething experience has also been different. Alexandra didn’t pop a tooth out until she was nearly 11 months old and hasn’t ever really struggled so aside from a couple of sleepless nights there hasn’t really been any issue. Max has had a really hard time with his – the first one popped through this week and the second is nearly there. You can tell they’re really bothering him.
Max will be on first name terms with the doctors as soon as he can talk. Alex on the other hand has been to see the GP once (for a rash that I was pretty sure was viral but wanted a second opinion on). I hope I’m not jinxing that!
And Max definitely started babbling earlier than his sister and is much more vocal. Only time will tell if that means he’ll start talking sooner!
Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

Paid To Breastfeed

This child would not have earned me £200.

Have you seen the most recent news about the results of a pilot scheme which sees mothers given up to £200 to breastfeed? The five-year trial saw moms in certain parts of the country given £120 in vouchers for certain shops if they said they were breastfeeding when their baby was six weeks old, and a further £80 if they were six months on

The experts are now recommending this be rolled out in a bid to up our breastfeed rates which are, when compared to the rest of the world, pretty shocking. Now let me start by saying I’m absolutely in favour of boob milk. If you can feed your baby and they’re happy and you’re happy then great! But this idea of paying people to do it makes me absolutely fuming! Seriously. My husband mentioned this story to me a couple of hours ago and I’ve been seething about it ever since. I think it’s disgraceful to essentially punish people (by not giving them the same financial opportunities as others) for something that could be entirely out of their control.

What about the mother who desperately wants to breastfeed and has spent days, weeks or even months trying to get their baby to latch on but they just won’t? (I had a baby who had six days of INTENSIVE breastfeeding support in hospital. Every single person who worked in the hospital she was born in had a go at trying to get her to latch, and she was just useless at it bless her. She was losing weight, she was in danger of becoming jaundice again and both she and I were pretty unhappy. Should I have stuck at it and potentially endangered her health?)

What about mothers who have conditions which mean they can’t breastfeed, or who are on medication that prevents them from doing so safely? Shall we just encourage people to delay their chemo for six months so they can get an Argos voucher? Or come off their antidepressants at the most vulnerable time of their life so they can pick up something nice from Debenhams?

What about those for whom breastfeeding, or the thought of doing so, has a completely negative effect on their mental health? I am absolutely all for breastfeeding where possible, but if it’s going to make you poorly doing it (or trying to do it) then you have to think about the long term health of yourself and your baby because clearly if you’re unwell that’s going to have an impact on them.

What about those who have to return to work really quickly after having their baby to support their family, perhaps if they’re not eligible for maternity pay or can’t afford to live on it, if dad isn’t around or is unable to work? Yes ideally you’d work somewhere where it would be possible to continue to breastfeed or express but we all know that’s not always feasible.

What about those who are simply too physical unwell to breastfeed? ‘Sorry you were in a coma six weeks after your baby was born but you REALLY should have tried harder to keep feeding her. No voucher for you!’ Yes, it’s extreme, but it does happen. I have heard SO many stories in the last two years about women who have been pushed to the brink physically by carrying and birthing their child so for them, whilst a lovely year-long breastfeeding journey that came to a end naturally when baby decided to wean would have been ideal, it’s just not possible to do it.

I can think of so many more examples where mom may really want to breastfeed but not be able to get to that six month, or even six week, mark. It may be easy to look at it as a simple choice of ‘I want to breastfeed’ or ‘I want to formula feed’ but I think in the majority of cases it’s much more complicated than that.

I also slightly object to the thought that we may need to give financial incentives to people. We’ve all seen the facts, breastfeeding has many benefits. If it works then it’s great (and let’s face it, you’re already getting the financial benefit of not buying formula or bottles or sterilising equipment), but you should want to do it because you’re aware of the advantages not because you’ve seen a new coat you’d like to buy with the vouchers.

Why aren’t we putting that money towards educating people about the benefits of breastfeeding?

Why aren’t we putting that money towards having more support for people who desperately want to breastfeed but can’t?

My other questions are: what about combi feeding? We seem to concentrate so much on the whole BF/FF debate but do you still get the money if you’re combi feeding like we are? Do you get a percentage of the money depending how much breast milk your baby has?

And who’s checking whether these people actually are breastfeeding? Have we got spies sitting in the local Starbucks checking who’s got a boob out? Or hiding in people’s wheelie bins peeking through their window to check if they’re sneakily making up a bottle of formula?

What a truly sad state of affairs if the only way to drive up breastfeeding statistics is to throw a bit of cash at people!

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x